Directed by William A. Seiter
Produced by Hal Roach
Written by Frank Craven (story) & Byron Morgan
Starring Stan Laurel
Music by William Axt
George M. Cohan
Cinematography Kenneth Peach
Editing by Bert Jordan
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date December 29, 1933 (1933-12-29)
Running time 68 minutes
Country United States
Sons Of The Desert is the best known of Laurel & Hardy‘s comedy films of the 1930s. It ranks at number 96 on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 funniest films, which was compiled in 2000. This is the film where Stan and Ollie lie to their wives about Ollie needing to go to Honolulu so that he can recover from an illness (which he has faked),
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but instead they head to Chicago for their Sons Of The Desert convention. Everything seems to go well until the ship that they were supposed to be on sinks.
There are a lot of funny scenes in the film but it is the personalities of Laurel & Hardy that makes this well worth watching. All of the mannerisms that we associate with the comedy duo are present in this film, from Ollie’s lying and telling the most preposterous story imaginable, to Stanley’s cry-baby routine when his wife finds him out. There is also quite a lot of funny slapstick along the way that makes this film very enjoyable.
Directed by George Marshall
Edward F. Cline (uncredited)
Produced by Lester Cowan
Written by W. C. Fields (as “Charles Bogle”) (story)
Everett Freeman (screenplay)
Richard Mack (screenplay)
George Marion Jr. (screenplay)
Starring W. C. Fields
Cinematography Milton R. Krasner
Editing by Otto Ludwig
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date February 18, 1939
Running Time 76 min.
This was quite a good W. C Fields comedy film. It features a lot of classic lines from Fields, as well as some good slapstick pratfalls, but also features a continuation of his wonderful rivalry with a ventriloquists’ puppet.
It’s a bit hard to explain but for many years Fields had a radio rivalry with Charlie McCarthy, Edgar Bergen’s (Candice’s father) dummy. It’s strange indeed to think of someone doing a ventriloquist act on the radio, but that is where this funny rivalry was created. Both Fields and Bergen have some great moments to themselves in the brief moments when they are in a scene together there is some really good chemistry and funny jokes.
You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man is a part of the W.C. Fields Comedy Collection with The Bank Dick, My Little Chickadee, International House and It’s A Gift. This DVD box set is available from Amazon for $46.99. You can purchase it by clicking here…
Directed by Bruce Beresford
Written by Bruce Beresford & Barry Humphries
Starring Barry Crocker,
Music by Peter Best
Release date 1974
Running time 93 minutes
Compared to the original this is a pretty awful film. It doesn’t have the charm of the original and seems to think that it’s funny just saying the words abo, slant eyes and poofter as often as you can if an hour and a half. There is a huge cringe factor involved in this film and its celebration of ockerism. It could have worked if it satirised instead of celebrated the boof headed stereotype or made it like the first movie where we had an unsophisticated fish out of water story, but instead Humphries and Beresford tried to make it some stoopidly lame comedy. It is a shame as the are both very talented and can do much better than this shit. As a gross out comedy it doesn’t work as there is just one clever double entendre in the entire film. Thank Christ we’ve progressed ever so slightly in the 35 years since this was released, although I know that there are some rednecks who mourn the fact that it is now frowned upon to go out of your way to be as offensive as possible for no reason whatsoever.
I suppose the only redeeming feature of the film is Crocker’s sincere performance. The rest of the film is just a whole lot of stereotypes and crudity for the sake of crudity.
As you can see, very classy indeed. Also I have to ask… where we so insecure at that time? It’s almost as if we had to reassure ourselves that Australia had a place in the world and that we could in fact do worthy things. Unfortunately the only thing this film is worthy of is being thrown in the garbage.
If you really want this piece of crap it is available from EZYDVD for $15, but I have seen it for $10 from other places (Dirt Cheap in Collins Street).